The 51-lap Azerbaijan Grand Prix started in a procession manner but ended with an explosive manner. Red Bull Racing driver, Sergio Perez took his second career win. Sebastian Vettel claimed Aston Martin’s first podium in Formula One and was the driver of the day. Pierre Gasly took his first podium after his win at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix for AlphaTauri.
The race started with everyone gingering around turn 1, as Leclerc held his lead with Hamilton and Verstappen behind. But Perez managed to get past Gasly for fourth place.
But, Leclerc found it difficult to keep up the pace as Hamilton used the slipstream and DRS to take the lead on lap 3 into turn 1. Verstappen made the same move on the Ferrari on the subsequent lap. By lap 8, Perez got past him as well, and Leclerc lost his chance at a podium.
The two Red Bulls started to close the gap to Hamilton. But the Brit dived into the pits for hard tyres for his Mercedes on lap 12. However, a slow stop meant, that both Verstappen and Perez overcut the Mercedes after their stops on the subsequent laps.
Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin started the race on the hard tyre and was going long into the race. But, his left rear tyre failed at max speed on the long straight around the Baku City Circuit. Stroll had a spectacular crash bringing out the safety car, thankfully he walked away unharmed.
While the race resumed on lap 35 Red Bull was looking at a double podium. But 12 laps later disaster struck again. Verstappen in the lead of the race suffered an identical tyre explosion at max speed as well on the main straight with four laps to go. The dutchman was unharmed, but out of the race which was red-flagged a lap later.
The race was restarted using a standing start with Perez on pole, Hamilton in P2 and Vettel up in third place. Hamilton got a better start, but failed to brake in time for turn 1 and went straight on, into the run-off areas and dropped to plum dead last.
Perez was in the lead with two laps remaining as Vettel found himself up into second place. Behind him, Gasly and Leclerc were battling it out to the line for that final podium spot. However, Gasly perfectly placed his AlphaTauri to keep the Ferrari at bay and came across the line to take third.
Both Mercedes drivers failed to score any points this weekend. With Perez’s win, Red Bull have now extended their championship lead.
Both tyre failures happened when tyres were on full load on the main straight. Pirelli is using a compound harder than last year’s design for this season. Questions will be asked at Pirelli after the unacceptable nature of two similar tyre failures. Both incidents occurred within the tyre’s determined ‘windows of life’ stated by Pirelli. We hope to have an answer from the Italian tyre maker soon, as the matter is expected to be thoroughly investigated.
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